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Author Topic: Meat Rabbits (May be objectionable to the squeamish!!)  (Read 1006 times) Average Rating: 0
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GabrieltheCelt
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« on: February 24, 2013, 05:03:32 PM »

For those of you who've raised rabbits for meat, particularly those of you in the city;

 1. What breeds did you have success with?
 2. Did you butcher them in the city (backyard)?
 3. What was the most efficient/humane way you killed them?
 4. What sort of set-up did you use?  How did you protect them from the elements and/or predators?
 5. After butchering them, what did you do with the entrails?  Fur?
 6. Did you build or purchase your hutch?
 7. What did you do with the rabbit pellets?

 I understand that there'll be those who will have a hard time with this topic, but for those who are interested or have had experience, learn  us a thing or two!  Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2013, 05:32:12 PM »

Never did in an urban environment and I am not sure if most folks would want to hear about how people do such things in a subsistence environment.

First thing I would do in an urban environment is to check the laws governing animal husbandry. Then depending on the risk, I would check with my neighbors about how they would feel about having a rabbit hutch near by.

The influx of latinos around here and their moving outside their "own communities" has pushed keeping chickens into the political discourse around here. Some green liberal types who want to keep chickens for eggs seem sympathetic to their plight till they see how things are done.

I can, when I get the chance, give you some ideas but I only raised rabbit in the country and without much regard for the weird way people see animals.

To take a shot across the bow:

1. New Zealand White. This was the de facto breed if you weren't showing. Other than the rabbits we harvested, this is the only breed IIRC having just for food. I had a few other breeds for show.
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2013, 05:38:48 PM »

2. Did you butcher them in the city (backyard)?

I can't imagine the amount of rabbits you would have to producing to make taking the rabbit to a butcher. They are easily dressed. But I would highly suggest having someone with experience show you how, if you ain't used to dressing animals.

Rabbits can carry (domestically kept much less likely) some nasty diseases most notably tularemia.

This question goes again to the question of what you legally allowed to do where you live.
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2013, 05:42:23 PM »

3. What was the most efficient/humane way you killed them?

Snapping / wringing their necks.

I can't imagine an easier, cleaner, and more effective way.

Some people "snap" their necks (and I guess are nutty enough to shoot them in a confined area or even slit their throats) using various makeshift mechanical methods, but I can't imagine why unless you just don't like feeling some die in your hands.

LOL! I just googled to see if there was device you could and they have made snapping a rabbit's neck easier:

http://www.therabbitwringer.com/
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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2013, 06:25:19 PM »

Thanks, Orthonorm!

 I've watched a lot of YouTube vids featuring the wringer.  That looks like the most humane (and clean!) way to get the job done.  I've also dressed chickens and squirrels before, so I'm sure I can handle rabbits.  The New Zealand White seems like the standard breed, although there are a few others I've read about.  As far as city ordinance goes, still not sure.  I know the city allows up to 7 chickens (no roosters) inside the city limits. 

 Did y'all build or buy your hutches? 
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2013, 06:27:17 PM »

When  I was about 8 yr sold, I was a friend of a kid whose parents who raised meat rabbits in a suburban environment. I remember him mostly because he had six fingers. I am pretty sure that their business would not be legal these days. However they had a refrigerated meat counter in front of their house, which they plugged in when they were selling (it was no different than the butcher department in a grocery store at that time). They butchered the rabbits in the kitchen, the fur-hide was collected for sale somewhere. Kids would buy rabbits from them for pets. They also raised pigeons, which I am sure was for squab. If you are in an urban environment, squab might be easier to do in order to get some extra cash (assuming you have a restaurant or buyer lined up). I was considering squab at one point and read all that I could find about it.

Anyone who reads this forum and is suddenly squeamish by this thread is possibly a hipocrite (with the exception of vegetarians who are against abortion, the death penalty, guns, etc.).
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« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2013, 06:32:57 PM »

Eww! Bunnies should be cuddled, not eaten!
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2013, 06:33:18 PM »

Thanks, Orthonorm!

 I've watched a lot of YouTube vids featuring the wringer.  That looks like the most humane (and clean!) way to get the job done.  I've also dressed chickens and squirrels before, so I'm sure I can handle rabbits.  The New Zealand White seems like the standard breed, although there are a few others I've read about.  As far as city ordinance goes, still not sure.  I know the city allows up to 7 chickens (no roosters) inside the city limits. 

 Did y'all build or buy your hutches? 

Build.

Chicken wire and whatever wood was lying around. But we had an enormous barn so the hutch wasn't really for much more than keeping the rabbits from leaving and to reduce the lose of them to predators.

I'll keep my eye out around the Italians around here who sell rabbit still. But I think they get theirs from China or some insanity like that.
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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2013, 08:35:43 PM »

I haven't given much thought about selling the meat.  I'm mainly interested in the meat for my family and anyone at church who might be interested. 

 Hey Opus, what's squab? 
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2013, 09:33:07 PM »

Quote
Hey Opus, what's squab? 

Yummy.
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2013, 10:09:29 PM »

My experience parallels Orthonorms. We lived in the country where livestock & home butchering were the norm. Easiest way to kill the rabbit is to hold it by the back legs, head down, and deliver a quick blow to the base of the skull, snapping the neck. We simply burned the hide & entrails. I've known people who operated small commercial operations that profitted from the hides, but there's a lot involved in that. They also profitted by keeping shallow trays under the hutches to catch the droppings, and raised earthworms in the droppings. The earthworms were sold as bait, and the earthworms' castings were sold to gardening supply companies as 'sterile soil'.
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« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 01:07:20 AM »

Hi GabrieltheCelt,

I show and breed rabbits for the show table and pets, but also have an interest in the meat side.  It's great you're considering rabbits as a source of homegrown meat - they are quiet, personable animals; gentle and easy to handle, easy to house in a suburban situation, very clean and usually disease-free, and as they breed prolifically can produce more meat for their size than most meat animals.  One buck and 3-4 does will probably supply enough meat for an average family, depending on what breeding cycle you adopt.  The meat is low-fat and easily digestible, and the waste is great for composting or adding directly to gardens.

Some good links on meat rabbits, and rabbits in general:
The American Rabbit Breeders' Association (ARBA) - an excellent source of information about different rabbit breeds, with links to rabbit breed clubs and breeders.
http://www.raising-rabbits.com - a comprehensive, one-stop resource on all aspects of raising rabbits, including breeds, housing, husbandry, feeding, breeding, dispatching and processing.
Yahoo Meatrabbits group - a friendly, family-safe and informative group on all things meatrabbit!


Breeds:  New Zealand Whites and Californians are the main meat breeds - both are large but not gigantic animals, specially bred to produce large litters of fast-maturing kits with a high meat yield.  Other breeds also worth considering are Standard, Giant and American Chinchillas, Satins, Silver Martens, Sables and Rexes. 

If you have an interest in rare livestock breeds, there are several American heritage meat rabbit breeds to choose from - American Whites and Blues, Cinnamons, Palominos, Silver Fox and American Sables.

If you prefer a smaller rabbit, Dutch and Florida Whites have excellent dress-out rates, on a par with those of NZ Whites and Californians.  Avoid Flemish Giants - although large rabbits, they are heavy-boned, do not have a good dress-out rate, and eat like horses!


Dispatching and Processing:  Rabbits can be quickly and humanely dispatched and processed in a small area.  You can set up a small processing station in a shed, outside near the house; or even use your laundry, kitchen, or bathroom space. 

There are several methods of dispatching - cervical dislocation, broomsticking (a slightly 'hands-off' method of cervical dislocation), a heavy quick blow to the back of the head just behind the ears, .22 gun, pellet gun (some of these can be used in suburban areas).  The rabbit wringer is a method of cervical dislocation.  These are covered in more detail on the MeatRabbits group and Raising Rabbits website.  Look up "KainanRa" on YouTube - he has an excellent video on how to process rabbits.   

The manufacturer of the Rabbit Wringer also makes the Rabbit Zinger, a humane killer/captive bolt gun powered by rubber bands.  I have one of these, and it is my method of preference above all others - it is very quick and humane; does not require a lot of strength, restraint or manhandling of the rabbits.  As a result is less stressful on the animals, very easy to master and probably less 'squeamish' than some of the other methods.  You can see videos of this method on YouTube and the manufacturer's website.


Housing:  My rabbits are housed outside in solid wooden English-style hutch blocks (several individual cage units in one structure).  They are off the ground, painted to withstand weather and rabbit pee, and all the doors are padlocked.  One hutch block I built myself; others I bought and modified to my needs as required.  For a few rabbits, this sort of set up is okay; anything more is very labour-intensive.  Most people who get into rabbits on a larger scale usually use a wire caging system inside a shed or barn. 

You can buy cages purpose-made; or purchase rolls of welded wire mesh, pliers and j-clips and make them yourself.  As a general rule, use 14 gauge 2 x 1 inch wire mesh for the cage sides and top, and 14 or 16 gauge 1 x 1/2 inch wire for the floor.  For the meat breeds, Bucks should be housed in cages not less than 2 x 2 feet in area and 18 inches in height; does and kits need 2 x 3 foot in area, preferably more.  Raising-Rabbits and the MeatRabbits group have instructions and pictures of cages and different caging systems.


Disposing of any waste:  The liver, heart and a few other organs are considered delicacies by some people (I'm not into organ meats so have never tried them).  You can give them to your dogs or cats; they are also sought after by people who feed their cats and dogs on raw-food diets. 

The skin/fur can be saved for processing into pelts, which is worth considering if you go with one of the dual-purpose fur/meat breeds like Chinchillas, Silver Martens, Satins or American Fox.  The Rex has an especially luxurious, velvety coat.  The fur breeds' coats are at their best at 5-6 months of age, which is in opposition to the best time to harvest rabbits for fryers (8-12 weeks).  Coats can be bagged up and kept in the freezer until you are ready to process them.


Rabbit pellets:  By this I assume you mean the manure. Smiley  Rabbit manure is a great fertiliser which can be composted or applied directly to gardens - it will not 'burn' plants if applied fresh like some other animal manures do.  You can use it in your own garden, or bag up to sell/give away to other gardeners.  I give mine to a local community garden.  If you have a wire caging system, you can have a worm farm directly under the cages, which helps take care of the odour and volume issue.


Hope that helps. Smiley  If you want to chat rabbits further, please don't hesitate to PM me!

Deborah
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 03:07:45 AM »

Hey Opus, what's squab? 

Young domesticated pigeons and not worth the effort for the small amount of meat produced.

Many years,

Neil
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2013, 11:49:34 AM »

I haven't given much thought about selling the meat.  I'm mainly interested in the meat for my family and anyone at church who might be interested. 

 Hey Opus, what's squab? 

young pigeons, prior to having feathers. Usually about four weeks old. They weigh about a pound and a usda inspected squab will cost about $20 each.

I was just planning to have the parents (referring to pigeons here) just feed around the neighborhood and the squab would be a supplemental source of food (a treat). There are already large producers of squab in California, so producing them commercially makes no sense here.

I am interested in the rabbits, but I am pretty sure I cannot get away with it at my location.
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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2013, 01:14:57 PM »

Hi GabrieltheCelt,

I show and breed rabbits for the show table and pets, but also have an interest in the meat side. 

 Deborah,

 Thanks a million!  That was quite a helpful post with all kinds of help!  If I have any questions down the road (sooner than later), I'll take you up on your offer and PM you.  Again, thanks!!

Gabriel
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« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2013, 01:16:00 PM »

I haven't given much thought about selling the meat.  I'm mainly interested in the meat for my family and anyone at church who might be interested. 

 Hey Opus, what's squab? 

young pigeons, prior to having feathers. Usually about four weeks old. They weigh about a pound and a usda inspected squab will cost about $20 each.

I was just planning to have the parents (referring to pigeons here) just feed around the neighborhood and the squab would be a supplemental source of food (a treat). There are already large producers of squab in California, so producing them commercially makes no sense here.

I am interested in the rabbits, but I am pretty sure I cannot get away with it at my location.

 Thanks, Opus!  Check with your city about keeping rabbits; you might be surprised!
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2013, 02:36:41 PM »

Hi GabrieltheCelt,

I show and breed rabbits for the show table and pets, but also have an interest in the meat side.  It's great you're considering rabbits as a source of homegrown meat - they are quiet, personable animals; gentle and easy to handle, easy to house in a suburban situation, very clean and usually disease-free, and as they breed prolifically can produce more meat for their size than most meat animals.  One buck and 3-4 does will probably supply enough meat for an average family, depending on what breeding cycle you adopt.  The meat is low-fat and easily digestible, and the waste is great for composting or adding directly to gardens.

Some good links on meat rabbits, and rabbits in general:
The American Rabbit Breeders' Association (ARBA) - an excellent source of information about different rabbit breeds, with links to rabbit breed clubs and breeders.
http://www.raising-rabbits.com - a comprehensive, one-stop resource on all aspects of raising rabbits, including breeds, housing, husbandry, feeding, breeding, dispatching and processing.
Yahoo Meatrabbits group - a friendly, family-safe and informative group on all things meatrabbit!


Breeds:  New Zealand Whites and Californians are the main meat breeds - both are large but not gigantic animals, specially bred to produce large litters of fast-maturing kits with a high meat yield.  Other breeds also worth considering are Standard, Giant and American Chinchillas, Satins, Silver Martens, Sables and Rexes. 

If you have an interest in rare livestock breeds, there are several American heritage meat rabbit breeds to choose from - American Whites and Blues, Cinnamons, Palominos, Silver Fox and American Sables.

If you prefer a smaller rabbit, Dutch and Florida Whites have excellent dress-out rates, on a par with those of NZ Whites and Californians.  Avoid Flemish Giants - although large rabbits, they are heavy-boned, do not have a good dress-out rate, and eat like horses!


Dispatching and Processing:  Rabbits can be quickly and humanely dispatched and processed in a small area.  You can set up a small processing station in a shed, outside near the house; or even use your laundry, kitchen, or bathroom space. 

There are several methods of dispatching - cervical dislocation, broomsticking (a slightly 'hands-off' method of cervical dislocation), a heavy quick blow to the back of the head just behind the ears, .22 gun, pellet gun (some of these can be used in suburban areas).  The rabbit wringer is a method of cervical dislocation.  These are covered in more detail on the MeatRabbits group and Raising Rabbits website.  Look up "KainanRa" on YouTube - he has an excellent video on how to process rabbits.   

The manufacturer of the Rabbit Wringer also makes the Rabbit Zinger, a humane killer/captive bolt gun powered by rubber bands.  I have one of these, and it is my method of preference above all others - it is very quick and humane; does not require a lot of strength, restraint or manhandling of the rabbits.  As a result is less stressful on the animals, very easy to master and probably less 'squeamish' than some of the other methods.  You can see videos of this method on YouTube and the manufacturer's website.


Housing:  My rabbits are housed outside in solid wooden English-style hutch blocks (several individual cage units in one structure).  They are off the ground, painted to withstand weather and rabbit pee, and all the doors are padlocked.  One hutch block I built myself; others I bought and modified to my needs as required.  For a few rabbits, this sort of set up is okay; anything more is very labour-intensive.  Most people who get into rabbits on a larger scale usually use a wire caging system inside a shed or barn. 

You can buy cages purpose-made; or purchase rolls of welded wire mesh, pliers and j-clips and make them yourself.  As a general rule, use 14 gauge 2 x 1 inch wire mesh for the cage sides and top, and 14 or 16 gauge 1 x 1/2 inch wire for the floor.  For the meat breeds, Bucks should be housed in cages not less than 2 x 2 feet in area and 18 inches in height; does and kits need 2 x 3 foot in area, preferably more.  Raising-Rabbits and the MeatRabbits group have instructions and pictures of cages and different caging systems.


Disposing of any waste:  The liver, heart and a few other organs are considered delicacies by some people (I'm not into organ meats so have never tried them).  You can give them to your dogs or cats; they are also sought after by people who feed their cats and dogs on raw-food diets. 

The skin/fur can be saved for processing into pelts, which is worth considering if you go with one of the dual-purpose fur/meat breeds like Chinchillas, Silver Martens, Satins or American Fox.  The Rex has an especially luxurious, velvety coat.  The fur breeds' coats are at their best at 5-6 months of age, which is in opposition to the best time to harvest rabbits for fryers (8-12 weeks).  Coats can be bagged up and kept in the freezer until you are ready to process them.


Rabbit pellets:  By this I assume you mean the manure. Smiley  Rabbit manure is a great fertiliser which can be composted or applied directly to gardens - it will not 'burn' plants if applied fresh like some other animal manures do.  You can use it in your own garden, or bag up to sell/give away to other gardeners.  I give mine to a local community garden.  If you have a wire caging system, you can have a worm farm directly under the cages, which helps take care of the odour and volume issue.


Hope that helps. Smiley  If you want to chat rabbits further, please don't hesitate to PM me!

Deborah

PotM.

Probably the most informative post in a while around here.
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« Reply #17 on: February 27, 2013, 04:14:56 PM »

For those of you who've raised rabbits for meat, particularly those of you in the city;

 1. What breeds did you have success with?
 2. Did you butcher them in the city (backyard)?
 3. What was the most efficient/humane way you killed them?
 4. What sort of set-up did you use?  How did you protect them from the elements and/or predators?
 5. After butchering them, what did you do with the entrails?  Fur?
 6. Did you build or purchase your hutch?
 7. What did you do with the rabbit pellets?

 I understand that there'll be those who will have a hard time with this topic, but for those who are interested or have had experience, learn  us a thing or two!  Smiley

You should check with your local code office as well. There are often limitations on raising game/food animals ranging from total prohibition in standard residential districts to limits on numbers, types of animal housing etc... Neighbors can be "funny" about such things and can make life miserable.

Funny story, in my city you can do so with limits. Having worked in the municipal attorney's office for many years, I knew the rules. When we moved recently we found out one neighbor hates dogs. He was constantly calling the city, yelling over the fence and so on. Finally one day I had enough. I loudly said if he didn't like my dogs he was going to hate my three chickens and one rooster! I got a call from a friend in the code office who couldn't stop laughing. No more dog complaints and no chickens either.....
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2013, 05:34:18 PM »


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« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2013, 05:36:23 PM »

Don't use gas to kill. I've watched one Serbian (?) film...

BTW my father's friends kept hens in a dorm.
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« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2013, 06:54:47 PM »

Don't use gas to kill. I've watched one Serbian (?) film...

BTW my father's friends kept hens in a dorm.

what was the film?
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« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2013, 06:59:21 PM »

Don't use gas to kill. I've watched one Serbian (?) film...

BTW my father's friends kept hens in a dorm.

what was the film?

I don't remember the title. There was one thread about people who bought a pig and wanted to slaughter it in their flat. However they didn't want to notify the neighbours so they decided they would loosen the gas stove and gas the pig. After a few dozens of minutes the pig was still alive so they opened the doors to the kitchen to check what's the matter. One man was nervous a bit so he lighted up a cigarette and whole block's wall was blown up.

Kusturica propably.
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« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2013, 07:19:04 PM »

Don't use gas to kill. I've watched one Serbian (?) film...

BTW my father's friends kept hens in a dorm.

what was the film?

I don't remember the title. There was one thread about people who bought a pig and wanted to slaughter it in their flat. However they didn't want to notify the neighbours so they decided they would loosen the gas stove and gas the pig. After a few dozens of minutes the pig was still alive so they opened the doors to the kitchen to check what's the matter. One man was nervous a bit so he lighted up a cigarette and whole block's wall was blown up.

Kusturica propably.

sounds like him.  do they like his movies in your parts of the world?
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« Reply #23 on: February 28, 2013, 05:14:24 AM »

sounds like him.  do they like his movies in your parts of the world?

Yep, quite a lot.
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